December 26 — DOCTORS are urging the public to reject the propaganda of anti-vaccine groups, saying their distortion of facts is thwarting efforts to eradicate Covid-19.
Family physician with the Health Ministry Dr Suhazeli Abdullah said anti-vaccination groups have persistently questioned the vaccine’s ingredients despite the government’s assurance that the shots procured are certified halal.
Suhazeli said overcoming the coronavirus outbreak is a community, not an individual, effort.
“Yes, the ingredients in the vaccine are important but it is critical to protect the Muslim community from being infected,” he said.
The tenets of Islam are to first protect human lives, which the vaccine would do.
Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Nadzim Johan said he did not reject the vaccine but is concerned that the people could be guinea pigs in the vaccine “experiment”.
“Our question as an NGO representing the public is, what are the implications and the contents of the vaccine?” he said in an interview with Logout Malaysia posted on Facebook.
“As consumers, we have the right to know. We also have the right to choose, it should not be forced on us. I have heard that the Covid-19 vaccine injection will be mandatory.
“Is there a comprehensive study to show we will not be harmed?”
PPIM wrote to the ministry, seeking answers to these questions but has yet to receive a reply, said Nadzim.
Anti-vaccine groups have proliferated on Facebook, one of which is known as “Society Must Know”. The group was formed in 2016 and has 50,000 members.
A member of the group, who declined to be identified, said he will refuse the Covid-19 vaccine because he is unsure about its contents.
“We are not anti-vaccines by any means. We are just suspicious of the vaccines from Moderna, AstraZaneca, Covax, and Pfizer.
“We are suspicious of the ingredients of the vaccines and the people behind these pharmaceutical companies.”
He accuses the government of being too hasty buying the vaccine while it was still undergoing clinical trials.
“For us to resort to using a vaccine with dubious content, we must have reached a state of emergency. But although we have logged quite a high number of Covid-19 cases, the death rate is low.”
Medical Mythbusters Malaysia president Dr Ahmad Firdaus Mohd Haris said Malaysians are not laboratory rats.
“In Malaysia, approval for a vaccine is only given after the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) has conducted an in-depth study.
“The government has guaranteed that the vaccine will only be administered after phase three clinical trials are completed.
“There is no indication at all that Malaysians will be subjects of an experiment,” he said.
Firdaus urged the authorities to curb the anti-vaccine groups which could influence the people and cause them to reject inoculation.
“As the anti-vaccine groups get bolder, we feel they need to be curbed by the authorities.
“The longer they are allowed to spread false information, the more people will be deceived.”
The government has signed multiple deals to purchase Covid-19 vaccines, including from Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.
The Health Ministry will also take part in the clinical trials of a vaccine developed by the Institute Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia would take a multi-pronged approach to secure enough vaccines for at least 60% of the population.
“We will get the tested vaccines from any country and we are currently negotiating with 10 of the 12 leading manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines in various countries, such as China, Russia and the US,” said Muhyiddin.
“Whatever it is, the vaccine to be used on Malaysians must be first approved by NPRA.
“We will not make it compulsory for all but we will make it mandatory for the vulnerable groups.”